A Nation in Birth|Death

This moment is vibrating, the formation of an event horizon.

Tonight I feel the tension before the birth of circumstellar disks, accretion disks, spinning matter in flat bands. Two disks occupy near space. One expands to spiral outward, colliding with and altering all it touches; the other spins debris inward, as if to a black hole.

Inauguration Eve ©19 January 2017  8 p.m.|Sandra R. Davidson

Artist’s impression of a baby star still surrounded by a protoplanetary disc in which planets are forming.

Spiraling In or Spiraling Out? [Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada]

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Plain Plait

Modern Sculpture of a Woman with Long HairI manage to keep this bag with me. Years. I may well have been born with it.

Its many-colored haircloth is seamless and drawn tight on itself by a braid. I have repaired it with my own strands; first blonde, then browns, now grays.

It must weigh half an ounce, if that. Here—open it. Yes, open it.

I know! Black as any night with storm. I have known moments in life to be so dark. Is there a scent of rain from within, or does my imagination brew it? No trick there; it is as small on the inside…except—well, no, that would sound dramatic.

Those dark moments I mentioned? I-it sounds wild.

Yes, alright. How to tell you?

When I don’t know what more there is, the times my mind empties and no solutions come, the braid looses itself as the sides of the bag bulge.

I have learned to accept the strangeness of it and let the bag fall away on its own.

Then into life appear the most uncanny blessings. I cannot not ask for what I do not know I need, but there it is. I gather the slack bag and try to embrace what is given me, hope.

Surely you haven’t lost yours? Oh. Come, let me help you weave.

© 2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Island Survival

Image By Larry Farr||morguefile.com

Image By Larry Farr||morguefile.com

Lewis and Clark would be dismayed. The careful calculations they charted were of a forming and reforming Columbia River, which was destined to divide.

Swaths of explorable land forked the lake-like Columbia while heavy timber slowed the push of mist, rain and river. The ocean fought the flow of fresh water, diluting with low tide only to reclaim its mixture as the tide swelled.

The tide and the river’s pulse remain. With the felling of timber, the rise in soil run-off heaved the volume of the river. What the rush of spring melt had not washed away was suffocating in the sudden silt. Island swaths dwindled to stranded trees between muddy banks.

True, the onslaught of matter-dense river water will etch away the blunt tip of an island. And it is at the upstream the island gains debris with which it incrementally rebuilds itself. The trees march forward, sidling up to shore one another during the calmer months. The solidarity of trees’ roots claim any purchase—deadfall, rock and nutrients—that would otherwise escape the grasp of an island.

Then-maps will never match now-maps, or next-maps for that matter. The Pacific Northwest is a place set in its ways, however malleable the landscape.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Really? Labels on Psychology Today

Beyond YourselfMental health issues have come a long way from being covered up by family or applying the label, “nutcase.” Labeling reduces people to objects, convenient as the phrases may be.

Psychology Today is the last place I would expect the use of derogatory labels such as “crazy.”

Here is a list of the instances of crazy in the article by Donna Jackson Nakazawa.

Paragraph 1: “…[someone] simply acts crazy in ways that confound us…”
Suggestion: Drop the word crazy.

Paragraph 3: “How can we stop feeling embroiled in other people’s craziness?”
Suggestion: The word behavior would be a suitable substitute for “craziness,” though I can think of other alternatives.

Item 11: “…to prevent a crazy-making altercation…”
Suggestion: Slightly less succinct would be, to prevent an altercation that leaves us with distressing thoughts.

Item 14: “…who’s driving you crazy…”
Suggestion: How about, who’s become the center of your thoughts.

Also, I ask, “Who is behind the wheel driving? And why isn’t it you to begin with?” That could be another article in itself. I suspect there is more than one side of the equation that needs to address mental health.

Postscript: From the point listed in response to paragraph 3 [“How can we stop feeling embroiled in other people’s craziness?”], are we conveniently turning away from recognizing others require help? We likely are not the person to help them; however there are many ways to foster connections between the person in need and persons who can offer help.

Sandra R. Davidson

X-Ray

XI couldn’t be a reporter. I can pin down facts; however, few reporters are given time and column space to look deeper into an assignment.

To take a photograph is to capture what you see in a specific moment. To take an X-ray is to see deeper, to the structure of a thing.

Or to feel deeper, develop compassion into empathy. That is where I am found most often, in empathy. It isn’t often a pretty place. It has its rewards.

A child enraptured in a first experience. A child in overload from “just one more errand.”

There is recognition within me. Through the momentary connection, a fiction may race ahead or delve into what was, or more likely both. There is no conflict with reality because that moment passing isn’t as a reporter taking notes. I can take time for more than a photo. If I’m not careful, I find myself in the X-ray film.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Trail

TI know she’ll be hungry. She’s inexperienced enough to fire a rifle while standing—on a hillside. She chanced a kill with no way to haul it. I boggle.

I’ve been two days and three nights puzzling. Okay, worrying. If a person has so little experience with the essentials of sustenance, how will she manage her own bandages? Shelter likely is an issue. Does she have something safe to eat?

With the venison smoked at different camps, the tanning of the hide was underway. Always on the move.

“April, I feel compelled to find this girl…woman.”

“You think it wise given her attitude?”

“Her inexperience might take her life.”

“Trying to find her might cost us our lives. If she has access to one gun, she probably has access to more.”

She has a point. I thought it through during the nights of worry. “We’ll have to take that chance.”

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Off Theme: Response to Poetry and Social Media

I’ll cut away from the April A to Z theme for a hmmer I’ve just had. Join me?

I read Fox Chase Review’s entry Poetry and Social Media:

“How does a well-crafted poem fit into social media? …poets write poetry because it is who they are and no matter what changes there are…the poet will always write.”

You don’t have to be a hermit to know how the social habit of publishing is seemingly counter to the cocoon of writing. I’ve asked myself similar questions and considered how reclusive the writing/publishing process was a hundred years ago compared with today. If your feet aren’t pounding it out to the public, it won’t fly.

Okay. I dragged my heels on creating a blog. What is one more web page out of millions? Who hasn’t said what there is to say in one format or another? (I am adept at talking myself out of just about any form of “public,” aren’t I?)

Got to be pebbles here…A few of my favorite poets plopped their poems right to the public online, in their blogs. My jaw hit the floor. I questioned existence as I knew it and wondered if we as a species could ever go back to non-instantaneous pleasure. The “I want it for free!” decades. Give it to them once and they don’t want to pay for it, which means seiving an ocean of practiced communication to gather pebbles of poetry.

More than a few conversations with writers and readers. All the same considerations of “will physical books disappear?” We’re still wringing our hands and trying things both ways.

You decide. No, really, you will decide with your dollars and participation.

I have switched from clicking private or friends-only on everything I post or email. If I have something to say, I must want to make sound.

Our words are finite. Our lives are finite. The days of capability dwindle. It is difficult to find your calling, which I haven’t, only after the primary skill it requires no longer functions well. Model making and needlework, those fine motor skills evaporate with arthritis and macular degeneration.

Three good friends routinely remind me: Whatever you have to give, you give it.

Writing anything well is serious work though the treatment of a subject and the intended response needn’t be bleached-bone still.

I hope not. If so, I’ve bored someone to death. Not much could be worse.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson (<<I always forget this part. Is it even necessary??)

The Switching Station

SMy grandparents lived near an overpass beneath which a half dozen pairs of railroad tracks form a train yard, a switching station. This is where cars hitch up from one route to another, one engine to another.

It is a relatively quiet dance given the massive amounts of metal being shoved around. When the small town traffic and the highway noise reach a low, the steel wheels and rails sing. This became a lullaby of my childhood to which I fought sleep.

I returned at a point in my life when insomnia and had taken over my nights while confusion and sadness were starving me, literally. In three and a half weeks I had lost 32 pounds and could no longer keep water in my stomach. I didn’t feel and I didn’t care.

The first night, sleep wouldn’t come. I sat on the cement steps my grandfather had poured years before I was born; I fretted. I felt hollow of body and spirit. I felt a calm come on. It took some time to recognize the haunting lullaby still sings.

I slept.

The morning brought familiar smells and tastes at the table in my grandparents’ one-person kitchen. I ate some. During the day I ate the morning’s refrigerated ham between a room temperature biscuit. I sipped Southern sweet iced tea my grandmother kept refrigerated in what was once a one-gallon, glass pickle jar.

By the time I boarded the flight to Portland, Oregon, I felt physical relief. I was unsure what might have happened while I was in California. Sleep and time away helped me hold to the calming lullaby of the switching station.

Three children, my father lost to cancer left the two siblings. Eight grandchildren, one memorialized, and then great grandchildren. After 50 years of Grandma and Grandpa’s, we all mourned the day their home sold and they moved to another house.

Gone the scent of an old King James Bible read aloud in my grandmother’s cadence; the bounty of the garden my grandfather kept watered and weeded; the sight of their neat rows of multicolored canning jars on shelves beside his steel coffee cans filled with nuts, bolts and the aroma of WD-40.

The two-lane highway we used to cross to get to church three times a week is now two in each direction with the center turning lane bringing the count to five. Traffic never reaches a low.

I’m certain the wheels and rails still sing in the din.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Faithless Reverence

RThe fawn’s hide hangs a quarter of a mile away, atop a young oak with leaves just pushing to the surface of flexible branches. The sap had become restless since the winter temperatures warmed above freezing during the day. Open to the elements and winged scavengers, the hide will be ready to cure in a week—provided larger scavengers didn’t find it. Prowlers were the reason for the distance between the hide and ourselves.

To use every scrap of a kill is to live in reverence for life. The fawn’s life, the life it transfers to our bodies is immutable energy. There will come a day when I hunt smaller and again smaller game. I realize my life, flavored of reverence, will nurture something else’s life. My wife turns to stoke the smoker and smiles at my steady gaze.

My quiver is full before I swallow the first mouthful of venison. It is a moment of presence encompassing survival of all things. My wife feels the reverence as I do, though we haven’t a shared faith.

I am faithless. The laws of nature and science, such as I remember science, are sufficient to explain success or failure, rich health or poor health.

To raise her hands and voice in ritual, to speak to an entity greater than herself, it keeps her hopeful. The habits of her belief structure her living. And so her reverence is divided or shared among what she sees as a purposeful existence.

Gratitude for the strength of my body and the wit of my mind, those are where I place my faith. And in her skill. I observe her reverence and she mine without the need to explain its source on a personal level.

I suppose my reverence isn’t entirely without faith.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Groundless

G

[Positional Awareness]
At first, small feet were followed with small eyes. Small feet then followed young eyes until both were fairly independent of each other.
Curbs.

Baby at First Birthday

That was pretty much a groundless girl’s first birthday photo.

[Propulsion]
Beneath me, a leather strap worn smooth by many bodies. I tipped my head. I tipped my torso. Finally it all tipped and a slight motion forward encouraged a stronger motion backward. I flew without thought of falling, those chains so grand in my hands.
Swings.

[Balance]
I wore modesty shorts under all my skirts. Metal was so cold at 7 a.m. as I slid across the bar, positioned it in the crook of my knees and my hands let go. I stayed upside down, swinging naturally until my pulse began to pound behind my eyes. Dismount was a grace I won and then forgot to forget.
Monkey bars.

[Gravity]
Two solid steel circles taunted me, even on my tiptoes. When finally I caught one, I could swing aside to catch the other. No one would bothered to tell me how many muscles, how much strength it took to slowly raise and angle the body for a forward or backward climb to a headstand position.
Rings.

[Independence]
I was seven, when I became an unescorted airplane passenger for the first time. With only the stewardesses to watch over me, I watched under me. I had the first first-class seat and shared the row with no one.Three hours I remained riveted to the view out the portal window.

See, my grandpa and my father both worked in aerospace in separate capacities. This view was me sharing both their laps at the same time and hearing them talk over one another to tell me about what their jobs meant to all the other passengers.
Departures; arrivals.

[Release]
Much of my life has been letting go. We moved often. People who knew me were completely unfamiliar, then disappeared again. Job. Marriage. Moving. Dovorce. New job. Losing our father, my mother-in-law to cancers. Three minute countdown to my ultimate release—only to grasp with resentment at the restless, unknown future.
Pass; fail.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson